restricted access The Transition toward Bilingual Education of Deaf Children in Sweden & Denmark: Perspectives on Language
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

THE TRANSITION TOWARD BILINGUAL EDUCATION OF DEAF CHILDREN IN SWEDEN & DENMARK: PERSPECTIVES ON LANGUAGE Shawn Neal Davies The following is a revision for publication of a paper presented at Gallaudet University, February 21, 1991. Co-sponsored by the Department of Linguistics and Interpreting and the Gallaudet Research Institute, it will appear also as the latter's Occasional Paper 91-1, with the same title, minor variations intext and format, and appended material. It appears here by permission of the author and the Gallaudet Research Institute. [Ed.] Introduction This is a report on a four-month study of deaf education programs in Sweden and Denmark that I conducted begining in March of 1990. In interviews and direct observation, I met with preschool teachers and administrators from all five schools for the deaf in Sweden and two of the three schools in Denmark, as well as with anumber of principals (one retired), and assistant principals. I spent many hours with preschool teachers and administrators, parents, students, school psychologists, speech therapists, audiologists, teacher trainers, children's clinic staff, and social workers. I also interviewed key individuals in the government, as well as the in the national associations of the deaf in both countries, in national and local parents' organizations, and in the fields of sign language teaching, sign language and speech research, interpreter training, and curriculum development. I met with two parents' groups and two groups of teachers, observed classes in almost every grade from preschool through high school, and visited the homes of four families with deaf children or teenagers. I spent a little over three months in Sweden (primarily Stockholm) and two weeks in Denmark (primarily Copenhagen.) I conducted 99 interviews and 27 classroom or home observations in 30 locations, and am still in the process of transcribing and analyzing the 58 hours of taped interviews I brought home. @ by Linstok Press, Inc. See note inside front cover ISSN 0302-1475 169 SLS 71 The study was funded by a grant from the World Institute on Disability, a U.S.-based organization that supports efforts to gather information about innovative programs abroad, in hopes that the findings will be useful to those considering similar changes here in the U.S. The goal of my study was exactly that: to gather information aimed at providing a description of bilingual' education of deaf2 children in Sweden and Denmark, in hopes that this information would be useful to those implementing-or considering implementing-similar programs here. One of the main objectives of the study Was to answer some very specific questions about the practical (and in many ways logistical) aspects of educating deaf children with sign language as their first language and Swedish (or Danish) as their second, largely because even the strongest supporters of the new methodology here in the U.S. have many questions as they try to envision a workable system. 1 Although the term "bilingual" has been used widely, many feel it may be amisleading label. The nature of bilingualism where deaf children are concerned is unique inthat the children do not have auditory access to both languages so that they can "acquire" them through exposure rather than by being taught. The connotation of bilingual education inthe U.S., from a legal perspective, isgenerally that children will be instructed intheir "mother tongue" until they are able to make an educational transition to use of the language of the majority. The approach referred to inthis paper uses as its model the premise that anatural sign language be the first language of the children and be maintained as the language of instruction ithe classroom even after the children have become literate inthe majority language. My use of the term 'bilingual" in this report isbased on the fact that most of my informants inSweden and Denmark-in both interviews and writing-referred to the approach I am describing as "bilingual." (Other terms used in Isolated contexts are 'Iwo-language approach" and "natural sign language first approach.") My own personal feeling isthat "bilingual" isa useful term and that, with some education of policy makers (the individuals most likely to be unfamiliar with this specialized meaning), the term can easily accommodate the new connotation . 2...